A Malawian husband of Belgium nationality Van Caelenberg Jurgen says he is still waiting to see justice in a criminal case 39 of 2023 in which his wife hacked him on the head in March this year at Chintheche in Nkhatabay district.
The court also placed custody of the family’s two children under the care of the wife, Ellen Khaula.
Chintheche police arrested the wife after hacking the husband and was taken to Nkhatabay magistrate court where she was charged with a case of causing grievous bodily harm according to Nkhatabay police spokesperson Kondwani James.
According to Jurgen, the Belgium embassy in Malawi advised him to relocate from Chinthenche for a while for safety reasons. He went to Lilongwe with their two children. The wife was sent to Mzuzu prison on remand.
The Mzuzu High Court released Khaula in May on bail through her lawyer George Kadzipatike who also applied to the Child Justice Court that their two children should be placed under the custody of the mother.
On May 2, 2023, Kadzipatike also applied for a stay of proceedings of the case before the Senior Resident Magistrate at Nkhatabay pending a review.
In his affidavit, the lawyer said his client was arrested on allegations that she unlawfully wounded her husband and that she was denied bail and was remanded at Mzuzu Prison.
The affidavit in support of the application reads in part: “That considering the way the Applicant is being treated by the said Court, it is in the interest of justice that this Court proceeds to suspend the proceedings. The Applicant verily believes that the continuation of the proceedings will be prejudicial to her and she will suffer injustice.”
And the High Court granted the review.
“Upon reading the affidavit of Ellen Khaula, and the skeleton arguments in support of the application to review the criminal cause number 39 of 2023, before the Senior Resident Magistrate Court sitting an Nkhatabay and upon hearing Counsel for the Applicant, it is hereby ordered that the leave for review is granted…” reads the order given by High Court judge Justice Kishindo.
In the order dated May 22, 2023, Kishindo also released Khaula on bail and asked the file for the case to be transferred from Nkhatabay to Mzuzu High Court within 14 days.
On June 4, 2023, the Child Justice Magistrate Court in Mzuzu granted Khaula custody of the children.
Reads the order: “Consequently we grant custody to the Applicant while the Respondent is granted access. We bank on the parties to fix terms which could best suit them. Thus renders the order of the court.”
The Senior Resident Magistrate of the Child Justice Court Ashford Harawa said the order was appealable to the High Court and that it could be varied should there be circumstances or later it turned out not in the best interest of the children or became unworkable for whatever reason permitted by the law.
Jurgen said since the leave for review was granted, the case has not moved.
“I want this criminal trial to continue. It is my only chance to see my children,” he said.
Lawyer Dave Lameck is representing Jurgen while George Kadzipatike is for the wife
A medical report from the Centre for Medical Diagnostics compiled by Dr. S. Mzumara shows that the axe hacking Jurgen received had an impact on his head.
It points to: “a linear superficial skull fracture on the right posterior parietal bone and a non-specific metallic artefact embedded along the right lambdoid suture but no intracranial.”
Jurgen married Khaula in 2013 and they have two children. Khaula comes from Rumphi district.